Try to remember just a few months back when former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was being accused by broad swaths of the Left of having undermined America’s foreign policy. His supposed sin? Discussing a United Nations vote regarding Israel with the Russian government after the election, and just before the inauguration. This, we were told, might have violated the dread Logan Act (second only to the Dread Pirate Roberts in the annals of dread).
Fast forward a few months.
On Friday, The New York Times printed a piece from Steven Simon, President Obama’s former National Security Council’s senior director for Middle East and North Africa, and Jonathan Stevenson, a director for political-military affairs in the Middle East and North Africa for the Obama NSC. That piece explicitly called on the Europeans to undercut President Trump. “Europe Doesn’t Have to Be Trump’s Doormat,” these two former Obama officials suggested.
This follows on former Obama Secretary of State John Kerry galumphing around the planet trying to gin up support for the Iran deal. So it’s not really a shock. Still, the spectacle of former Obama officials openly appealing to foreign countries to undermine Trumpian policy is rather amazing.
They begin by suggesting that Trump had somehow trampled on “European leaders, who urged Mr. Trump to exercise restraint in the interest of international security and multilateralism.” That’s odd, since President Obama trampled on America’s Congress, which didn’t approve the Iran deal, and America’s public, which hated it according to polls. But politics has its winners and its losers.
The authors then call on the Europeans to join the #Resistance.
Notwithstanding an abundance of kvetching, European powers have not yet shown Mr. Trump that he has anything to fear from ignoring their wishes. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has treated Europe like a doormat, questioning the value of NATO, ridiculing the mission of the European Union and dismissing European exhortations on policy matters.
Well, that’s a rather large exaggeration. In fact, Europe is not the European Union – there are a lot of countries with actual identities beyond Brussels. Trump has, for example, granted a hell of a lot more help to Russian-pressured Ukraine than President Obama ever did. And he’s reached out to Eastern European countries Obama left hanging in order to placate Vladimir Putin. He’s pulled out of some meaningless paper arrangements like the Paris Accords, but it’s hard to spot just what Trump has done practically to undermine the European position.
But the authors say that Europe must buck Trump nonetheless. How? Well, these European countries should continue to do business with the terrorist regime in Tehran. They must OWN TRUMP! by siding with the worst people on the planet.
Next, they should withdraw their ambassadors from the United States. Remember, these former Obama officials are now calling for foreign countries to withdraw their ambassadors from America and expel America’s ambassadors because we’re no longer going to funnel cash to the largest state sponsor of terrorism on the globe:
Isn’t this what states do when diplomatic partners breach solemn agreements, expose them to security risks and threaten to wreak havoc on their economies? That is, after all, what the administration is threatening to do by courting the risk of a Middle Eastern war and applying secondary sanctions to European companies. Depending on the American response, European capitals might even follow up with expulsion of American ambassadors.
So America wants to prevent Iran from gaining a bomb, and to protect its actual Middle Eastern allies from the predations of Iran’s non-nuclear aggression – and Obama’s team says Europe should throw America’s ambassadors out for this. Good luck with that one.
But then these Obama officials go further: they suggest that Europe should start sanctioning American companies. Yes, really:
If the administration’s next move were to impose secondary sanctions on Europe, the Europeans could slap its own penalties on American multinational corporations, which in turn would place additional pressure on the White House.
So we penalize companies doing business with one of the most evil regimes on the planet, and Team Obama wants Europe to stop doing business with America. Could we safely call this un-American? If not, perhaps this metaphor suggesting that America is the new King George III and the EU the new colonies would do it:
The Iran case is different. Europe is at odds with the United States on an agreement to which it is a party, concerning a matter of wide-ranging strategic and regional importance. If this doesn’t end the European Union’s doormat foreign policy, we might as well start referring to it as the 28 colonies ruled from across the ocean. This is not an outcome the United States should welcome. As Britain learned in 1939, it’s a lot better to have allies than colonies.
The Obama team have made their foreign policy preferences clear: if forced to choose between Trump and Iran, they’ll choose Iran. But don’t worry – it’s the Trump administration we have to worry about, supposedly.